Do you ever suffer from “canning guilt?”
That’s when you see flats of berries and crates of tomatoes, all at peak flavor and ripeness, and think, ” I should really get some jars and lids and put up some some of this gorgeous produce, if I only had more time.”
And then you see your industrious friends’ posts of their beautiful jams and salsas, gleaming like sunlight in a jar, and you feel guilty.
Or maybe you feel envy, or just tired, because you are busy, and you can’t take on every kitchen project.
It’s ok. Like you, I don’t have time to bake all my bread, roll all my pasta, make fresh nut milk, ferment my own kimchi, and on and on. I pick a few and stick with them as best I can.
I make my own kombucha, just so you know. I’m not a slacker. Really.
And canning just doesn’t make the current cut. Maybe when I retire. I’m much better at freezing food.
So let me share my lazy lady’s way to put up some tomatoes. I call it Tomato Jam. I promise it will fit into your busy day. No blanching and peeling, no chopping, just some time in a pan and a buzz in the Vitamix. Don’t worry, the blender will vaporize any trace of tomato skins and seeds- leaving you with plenty of healthy fiber, and thickening the jam. You can use your food processor instead, if you don’t have a Vitamix.
Right now, my own tomatoes are ripening on the vine, and every day brings a new find in my tomato boxes. Hot, fragrant fruit hangs there, baking up sugars in the sun. I can take a quick stroll around my yard and come back with this:
So here is how I get my tomato jam on. I pick a bunch of tomatoes, or buy them. I weighed them so that I can give you a recipe, but you can just get a couple quarts or so of nice ripe tomatoes. Cut them in half, heat a generous dose of good olive oil in a cast iron skillet, and throw in the tomatoes. Toss in several cloves of whole garlic. Toss in some salt.
Then just crank up the heat to medium-high and stir occasionally, it will get really juicy, then thicken up, inside 30 minutes. The garlic melts down to tender sweetness, so you don’t have to do a thing to it. I used cast iron, which also transfers iron into the tomatoes, so this has extra iron for all you meat avoiders.
Once the mixture is thick, add some raw sugar just to take the edge off of the acidity. Simmer for a second, then scrape it into the Vitamix and blend. You’ll get a smooth, thick paste like this:
Once the paste is cool, just transfer to a quart sized zip-top freezer bag, flatten into a sheet, and freeze, if you want to save it for after the snow flies. You’ll be glad you did.
This is the same technique I use for fresh basil preservation, which you can read about here.
You can also just stash it in the fridge and use it on everything, it makes a fine crostini topping, sandwich spread, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, soup base, and if you use your imagination, you will only find more uses.
I even slathered it on some sweet corn, and it was delicious.
I like to keep it simple, but if you have an urge to add some herbs, like fresh thyme and rosemary, or a dash of balsamic vinegar, give it a try.
I hope you will get creative and jam a little with your own tomato jam.
Makes about 1 cup
2 1/2 pounds ripe, assorted tomatoes, halved
10 cloves peeled garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon organic sugar
Prep the tomatoes, peel the garlic. In a large cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and then add the tomatoes, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally for about 30 minutes.
When the tomatoes have broken down and become thick, stir in the sugar. Transfer the mixture to the Vitamix and secure the lid. Select Variable Speed 1 and turn on the machine, then gradually increase to Speed 5. Blend for several seconds, until the paste is smooth.
Scrape the paste into a bowl or other container. Freeze in bags or eat within a week.